Deal expected to pass Senate before tonight's midnight deadline
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan bill to increase the U.S. debt limit and cut as much as $2.4 trillion in government spending passed the House of Representatives Monday evening, overcoming the key hurdle on the road to averting an unprecedented federal default.
The legislation, which passed with a relatively comfortable 269-161 margin, came after a weekend of tense meetings, staff discussions and, in the end, a compromise worked out at the highest levels of government. If passed by the Senate today, as widely expected, it will end a months-long standoff between a new Republican House majority, which refused to pass an increase without a deficit-reduction package, and the Democratic majority in the Senate and U.S. President Barack Obama.
The deal came together over the weekend when it was clear Congress no longer had time to spare. Even in the last moments before it was publicly announced, White House aides, who had watched several previous deals collapse, were so fearful of another failure they were preparing a statement to calm worried markets.